Poor hygiene is an important risk factor for reduced udder health. Because the teat cleaning process is done automatically on farms with an automatic milking system (AMS), hygiene management might differ. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between hygiene and udder health on farms with an AMS at the farm level as well as at the cow level. Information on hygiene and udder health was collected on 151 Dutch dairy farms with an AMS. Teams of 2 veterinary students collected data with the use of a partially open-ended questionnaire and scoring protocols for hygiene of the cows, cleanliness of the AMS, and functioning of the AMS. Milk production records from the Dutch dairy herd information association were also collected. Stepwise general linear models were used to analyze the relation between hygiene and udder health at farm level. Dependent variables were average herd somatic cell count (SCC), the average percentage of new cows with a high SCC, and the incidence rate of clinical mastitis, all in the year preceding the farm visit. The annual average herd SCC was positively related to the proportion of cows with dirty teats before milking and the proportion of cows with dirty thighs. The annual average percentage of new cows with a high SCC was positively related to the proportion of cows with dirty teats before milking and the proportion of milkings where teats were not covered with teat disinfecting spray by the AMS. The annual incidence rate of clinical mastitis was positively related to the frequency of replacing the milking filters. At the cow level, hygiene scores of the udder, thighs, and legs (range 1 to 4, where 1 is clean and 4 is very dirty) were related with cow SCC from the milk production test day closest to the farm visit using a general linear mixed model. The relationship between cow SCC and the hygiene score of the udder was positive.
Source: JOURNAL OF DAIRY SCIENCE Volume: 93 Issue: 9 nPages: 4019-4033 Published: SEP 2010